CMU Men Get Defensive, Down Montana State

CMU sophomore Kevin McKay throws down a dunk en route to a game-high 17 points on Tuesday in the Chippewas' 75-48 victory over Montana State at McGuirk Arena.
Dec. 5, 2017

Box Score

Andy Sneddon, CMUChippewas.com

MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. -- Different year, entirely different look.

Same result.

Kevin McKay came off the bench to score 17 points on Tuesday as the Central Michigan men's basketball team downed Montana State, 75-48, in a nonconference game before 2,092 at McGuirk Arena.

It was CMU's sixth consecutive victory and it lifted the Chippewas to 7-1. They play host to Tennessee Tech on Saturday (1 p.m.).

A year ago, the Chippewas outgunned the Bobcats, 106-103, in Bozeman, Mont.

On Tuesday, CMU jumped to a 7-0 lead and never looked back, building a 37-20 halftime lead. Montana State (6-4) never got closer than 17 points the rest of the way as the Chippewas bumped their advantage over the 20-point mark with just over 12 minutes remaining and cruised from there.

CMU's defensive focus was on Montana State's Tyler Hall, a 6-foot-4 guard who scored 29 when the teams met last season and came in to Tuesday's game averaging 21.8. He went scoreless, missing all nine of his field goal attempts.

The 48 points was the lowest point total for a CMU opponent since the Chippewas held Arkansas Pine Bluff to 43 on Nov. 23, 2014. CMU is holding opponents to an average of 60.5 points per game.

"It's rare to look at our team this year, on any possession, to not see great effort, to see guys talking, to see guys working, to see them battling both on the ball, off the ball, working in for rebounds," CMU coach Keno Davis said. "Our entire team has bought in that we really need to be a good defensive team to win."

Montana State came in averaging more than 80 points per game. The Bobcats made 28.8 percent of their field goal attempts, including just one of their 16 3-point attempts. Harald Frey was the lone Bobcat in double figures with 12 points.

"Coming into this game we knew that we wanted to change what we did defensively from last year," said CMU senior Cecil Williams, who was assigned to guard Hall. "From the beginning of the year to now we've been focusing on defense ... just flying all over the court and making plays."

Williams and Shawn Roundtree added 14 points apiece, and David DiLeo finished with 13 points and nine rebounds for the Chippewas. Williams and Luke Meyer had seven rebounds apiece, and Roundtree dished out four assists.

The Chippewas once again got balanced scoring, but it was McKay who shined in particular. He scored 10 of his 17 points in the second half, and had three dunks. He finished 8-of-14 from the floor and added six rebounds in 28 minutes.

"We have a lot of options," McKay said. "You can't take a day off on anyone on our team. We've got people who are known for scoring the ball more than others, but we have a lot of options off the bench so everyone has to be accounted for. Makes it a lot harder to guard.

It marked the third time this season that McKay, a 6-5 sophomore, has scored in double figures. He is making 48.8 percent of his field goal attempts.

"He's a matchup problem for teams," Davis said. "He takes the ball to the basket, he's continued to improve on his shot, he can guard. He and Cecil Williams (guarded) Hall, and even though Hall wasn't in there (much), they weren't giving him many looks when he was in there. To have somebody who can play so well on both ends of the court, it's pretty easy for a coach to find minutes for somebody like that."

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